Weekly Use of the Bucket Bike – Partially Replacing the Car

Thus far we have used our Madsen bucket bicycle on average 3 to 4 times per week over the past 2 months.  Although it is not exactly replacing the car (yet), we are finding that we are limited by the weather a little.  Either it has rained or mother nature has threatened to provide us with heavy downpours about half the time in the past two weeks.  A rain cover over the bucket might have helped, although riding in the rain isn’t exactly fun for the driver either.  If I could be sure that the kids would be dry in a downpour, I would probably have used the bicycle a few more times.  Over the past couple of months, at least the weather was beautiful most of the time, and for New England that’s saying something.  Still, the last couple of weeks have only offered us 4 or 5 times on the bike.  Since purchasing the bicycle we have ridden the bike over 275 miles, more than half of that with kids in the bucket.  We have encountered only very minor issues with the bike, something that will be discussed in a different blog post.

Here are a few of the ways we have spent time bicycling with the family in the last couple of months:
  1. Taking the kids to school and/or picking them up from school.  We do this 2 to 4 times per week, and it is the primary way we use the bike.  It’s a beautiful ride, and the morning ride home is often spent in the company of stuffed animals.  Additionally, it is a good workout since it is about a 12-mile round-trip and takes about a half-hour in each direction.  On a fancy road bike that distance might be quicker & easier, but certainly not with 2 kids plus school accessories!
  2. Stopping at our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to pick up our local farm share.   We do this with the bicycle whenever the weather allows it, even if we did not pick up the kids with the bucket bicycle that day.  It is worth taking the kids in the bike since it is just so much darn fun getting our fresh, local, organic produce without using any additional auto fuel.  Plus, we get much better parking and plenty of curious folks to talk with.  Although it has rained a few times on our pick-up day, we still frequently use the bicycle (with one or more kids) to come home loaded up with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  One day we rode home with a little rain - no big deal.
  3. Going to the grocery store with or without kids.   I went to the grocery store last week with the bucket bicycle to pick up a couple of gallons of milk plus a few additional “miscellaneous” items that we were missing at home.  Total time of trip (including time in store) was about 45 minutes, for a 3.5 mile round trip.  At the bike rack, a conversation was struck up discussing grocery transport by bike.  At a stoplight, another biker said that I can probably carry "a lot of stuff in there”… I confirmed his statement, and went on to say I could carry 600 lbs. of random stuff, I just didn’t know where I could find 600 lbs of kids and groceries!  This thing could haul 4 medium sized adults if you could fit them in the bucket.
  4. We also took a medium-length bike trip after school one day, including a picnic along the bike trail.  We met some friends (mom and her daughter) after school and explored a new section of bike trail that we hadn’t experienced before.  We set up a grill and cooked hamburgers, ate picnic food, and played on a beautiful tree.  After dinner we went for ice cream.  Ice cream ended after 8pm, and it was already dark.  We outfitted ourselves with headlamps and blinking rear lights and proceeded home.  It took us over an hour to get home, but it was a new experience we embraced.  During the ride we rode through one fairly pedestrian-heavy section of bike path where someone yelled out "How Cool is That??!".  It was fun for the kids riding around in the dark, until they got tired and quiet.  Our daughter fell asleep, and put her head down on a bag in front of her.  We encouraged our son to put his head down too, but he didn't feel comfortable doing that.  The kids were quite tired at the end of it, and immediately fell asleep as soon as their little heads hit the pillows at home.  Still, it was a memorable event for us that we would gladly do again... just perhaps make the night ride a little shorter the next time (or give the kids some pillows and blankets in the bucket!).
  5. Stopping at a local bike shop to talk with the employees and customers about the bucket bike, and checking out the bike accessories section.  We ended up buying a bicycle bell with a fake eyeball in the middle of it, and made some new friends.  However, one must be careful in bike shops with curious kids!  The bike store employee had to bungee cord a back wheel on one bike that the kids were spinning and cranking.  A hand or finger in the wrong place might make for a painful ride to the local hospital’s emergency room.
  6. Dinner at a playground.  This has happened a few times over the past couple of months and was more of a spur-of-the-moment thing, but it worked out great every time.  We ended up packing our dinner and taking it to the playground.  We played, ate, then rode home.  Great way to get out the end-of-day wiggles. 
  7. More random playground visits – we had a few more of these.  Excuse the somewhat fuzzy photo below, as it was taken near dusk.  The kids are now putting on their helmets by themselves, or helping each other get them on.  We find it fun to explore new playgrounds that we haven’t been to before, or some that we see regularly but don’t always have the time to visit.  
Feel free to contact us at: familybicycling@ gmail dot com.  We are hoping to expand this web site to include submissions of what other families are doing with bicycles, whether they are cargo bicycles, tandems, bicycles with trailers, classic bakfiets, or other creative solutions to transporting kids (both big and small).  Feel free to tell us about your adventures. More of this to come!


Post a Comment